We do apologise for the absence of any postings since 20 November last year but we can assure you that this does not mean we were not continuing with our fight to keep Cranleigh special – a fight that will go on, it appears, for a very long time if what we have recently heard proves to be true.
We promise to send regular, detailed postings now that the new Committee has settled in and the newbies have been informed of all that we have done and the enormous tasks that we face in the future. In the meantime here is a summary of some of the happenings in the past two months.
ALFOLD – SPRINGBOK – This was an application for, inter alia, 400 houses which would have tripled the size of the village of Alfold. It was REFUSED by a Government Inspector.
ASBESTOS CEMENT DRINKING WATER PIPES – Following the promise by Thames Water to start replacing the AC pipes in Cranleigh starting early this year, we are still working on this problem from different angles but we cannot say anything more right now!
RECYCLING CENTRE – We are keeping up the pressure on Surrey County Council as we believe cutting down the opening days by a whopping 50% is foolhardy and will lead to a huge increase in fly tipping. Please take photos of any fly tipping you see and send them to us via the website with the exact location.
HEWITTS – We objected to this application being agreed until this highly polluted and contaminated site is “cleaned up” to the full satisfaction of the Environment Agency. The application was withdrawn.
KNOWLE LANE – Only last week we learned of a proposal for 20 new homes, some distance from the settlement boundary, and heard reports that Berkeley Homes are securing “options to buy” many tracts of land down Knowle Lane. We are monitoring this closely.
LAW SOCIETY – We have written to the Law Society with suggestions for improving the searches process when new houses are being purchased. We will let you know when (if?) we receive their response.
PENWERRIS HORSHAM ROAD – You will recall that the McCarthy and Stone application was refused some time ago but there is a new application, on a smaller scale, from Renaissance. If agreed, the present tenants would be made homeless so we will keep a very watchful eye on this proposed development.
PARKING – Where do we start? There seems to be no attention being given by Waverley to the need for more car parking with a big increase in resident numbers. Already roads near the village centre, which do not have parking restrictions, are being used extensively so that high parking charges can be avoided – although it appears from recent WBC Notices that more road parking restrictions are imminent.
THAKEHAM HOMES, ELMBRIDGE ROAD – We are endeavouring to warn leading Home Insurers to flag up this future development as one to consider very carefully as we consider it to be an extremely high flood risk, providing them with the evidence which was just dismissed out of hand by Waverley in order to push this through in the chase to meet housing targets.
CCS Committee News – new chair Terry Stewart has a wealth of knowledge and experience and is looking for YOU to come forward to help support CCS please –
to raise our profile so that people know that we are active on the issues that are important to Cranleigh residents;
to use your interests, skills and availability;
to improve our communication methods to all residents – and the decision makers/influencers;
to widen the reach of recipients of our messages;
to use our limited resources, to prioritise our efforts, and assign responsibilities to members of the committee;
There are so many ways to work for our community honestly and effectively – please get in touch. thank you
Reply received today from Waverley Borough Council re planning enforcement visit, advising that there was no breach of planning after all. However, concerns have been raised about the presence of “two large mechanical excavators which were identified as belonging to a demolition and construction company. Both machines were fitted with grab claws which, in our opinion, would serve the purpose of demolition.” Apparently the construction workers were also no longer present at the time of the visit.
Full email :
“Further to our previous correspondence this week in respect of the above, I am writing to provide you with an update following William Gibb’s (Planning Enforcement Officer) site visit to Horsham Road on 1st November 2016.
A site visit was undertaken for the purpose of confirming whether or not works have commenced to demolish the properties at 106 and 108 Horsham Road, Cranleigh. On arrival to the site, it was noted that security fencing had been erected to the front and side of the property at 106 Horsham Road; however, at the time of his visit, there were no construction workers on site.
It was also noted that works had commenced to strip out internal fixtures and fittings at both properties and especially the property at 106 Horsham Road. These works would not be considered to be development, and as such, there has been no breach of planning controls. It is also confirmed that no works have taken place to demolish the two properties, and as such, there has been no breach of the planning permissions.
Concerns were raised, however, about the presence on the site of two large mechanical excavators which were identified as belonging to a demolition and construction company. Both machines were fitted with grab claws which, in our opinion, would serve the purpose of demolition. William Gibb has been in communication with the agent for the developer to raise concerns about the presence of such machinery on the land at 106/108 Horsham Road.
I trust this interim response is of assistance, however, should you require any additional clarification of our investigations, then please do not hesitate to contact me.”
End of email
Original post 2 November 2016:
Yesterday morning residents living near to the Crest Nicholson site, Horsham Road, woke to the sound of heavy demolition machinery working on the removal of number 106 and The Chantrys bungalow, these properties stand in the way of the access road to the Crest housing estate.
This was in clear breach of the planning consents of both the outline and detailed planning permission, which required that various conditions be executed prior to any work being commenced.
Cranleigh Civic Society, together with other residents, emailed Planning Enforcement at Waverley Borough Council requesting that they urgently investigate the matter.
Waverley acted quickly and sent an enforcement officer to the Crest Nicholson site yesterday afternoon and have confirmed that:
“The planning permissions do indicate that a demolition should not occur prior to the relevant pre-commencement conditions being discharged. This has been highlighted to Crest Nicholson on previous occasions.”
It transpires that in July Crest applied to Waverley to demolish the properties and were refused permission. However, it appears that, despite being reminded of their obligations “on previous occasions“, Crest Nicholson have carried on regardless.
Contractors working on the Horsham Road site said that they planned to demolish both properties on Monday and only stopped because they found live electricity on the site.
If it is proved that a planning breach has occurred Waverley can issue an enforcement notice on Crest, requiring compliance with planning consent. It is extremely disappointing that a huge developer like Crest, who will be more than aware of the rules relating to the planning consent, appears to be sidestepping them.
Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £20,000 on summary conviction in Magistrates Court, or an unlimited fine on indictment in a Crown Court. However, it appears that this is not a sufficient deterrent for developers wanting to act in their own best interest.
The enforcement process itself is discretionary and arbitrary and developers have the right to appeal. Please continue to be vigilant and let us know of any activity on development sites. It is extremely important that pre-commencement conditions are adhered to, without these, we can assume, that planning consent would not have been acceptable or granted by Waverley in the first place.
UPDATE 17 October 2016: Set response from Waverley Leader to multiple residents’ complaints.
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me.
I have now had the opportunity to speak with our Monitoring Officer about this matter and he is satisfied that the meeting was properly managed. He has advised me that there is nothing unusual or improper about the chairman conveying the views of councillors who are not present at the meeting. Whilst I understand that some will be dissatisfied by the decision made by the committee and fully respect the different views held in respect of this planning application, the Council’s Monitoring Officer has confirmed that that the process by which the application was considered and the manner in which a vote was taken and recorded were both done correctly in the usual way.
Farnham Upper Hale Ward
Leader Waverley Borough Council
END OF UPDATE
After a deferral on the 24 August, the Crest Nicholson application for 149 dwellings came before Waverley Borough Council’s Joint Planning Committee (JPC) again on 3 October 2016 at 7pm.
There was a disappointing turnout for this significant application, with only 15 councillors out of a possible 23 in attendance.
Despite numerous comments and concerns from members of the committee at the previous August meeting, Crest Nicholson had responded with very few changes to the original layout. However, despite this Planning Officers recommendation was for approval.
Layout submitted in August:
New layout (spot the difference):
This was hugely disappointing for residents, who after the August deferral and councillors strong criticisms, particularly regarding the rear parking courts (car parks), were expecting some changes on the northern boundary.
Unfortunately the minimal layout changes and the ongoing legal dispute over ownership of the drainage ditch, into which Crest Nicholson propose to discharge surface water from the site, proved to be no constraint and the application was granted by councillors in a vote of 8 to 7.
Cranleigh’s Borough Councillors Mary Foryszewski and Patricia Ellis fought Cranleigh’s corner, highlighting the high quality of this site, which was now subject to a “poor and uncaring design” not reflective of the area, together with narrow roads that would be unable to accommodate the estimated number of cars, and most importantly the great disservice being done to existing residents. Cranleigh Parish Council also objected to the relatively unchanged plans, the prevalence of parking courts on the northern boundary, issues about sewage capacity and stressed that this was an opportunity to achieve the best possible outcome for existing residents as well as new ones. Similarly vocal in her support was Farnham Councillor Carole Cockburn who was extremely disappointed and stressed that there had been an opportunity to “do something that works well for everybody” .
In a surprising twist, prior to the vote, the Chairman of the committee, Bramley Councillor Maurice Byham, deviated from normal protocol, to advise council members that Cranleigh Councillors Jeanette and Stewart Stennett were “happy” with the new scheme and had informed the developers’ agents [Savills]. The couple, he went on to expand, were on holiday in Australia and therefore unable to attend the meeting, however apparently they were watching it closely. Obviously not much going on in Oz at 5am in the morning!
In all of the planning applications that we have attended we have never heard comments read out from councillors not in attendance, or comments that were not officially lodged against the application, or those, as was implied by the Chairman, were personal statements from councillors direct to a developers agent.
You can hear it for yourselves:
To say we were taken aback by this announcement prior to the vote, which might be viewed by some as an attempt to gather support for the development, would be an understatement.
If you share our concerns please ask Julia Potts the Leader of Waverley Borough Council to explain the decision to use absent councillors comments, and whether the monitoring officer’s approval was sought and given prior to the meeting. Please copy in the Cranleigh Society to your email and your MP Anne Milton.
We think that existing residents who live adjacent to the site have been extremely reasonable in their response to the building of 149 dwellings on this beautiful open green field next to their homes.
The original site layout which accompanied the outline planning application, establishing the principle of building on the site was very different to the final layout in the detailed planning application.
The original layout was (note the northern boundary of the site that abuts existing housing):
We are constantly warning residents that the artists impressions that developers provide when they first consult with residents may well bear no resemblance to what is finally built on that site.
The design that was before the council last night was this:
We think that Cranleigh residents deserve better than looking out onto drainage ditches as well as a sewage pumping station (which could be noisy) and car parks! We are very glad that Councillors agreed with this, however the application has only been deferred and Crest Nicholson may decide that they don’t want to change their plans.
Other areas that Councillors expressed concerns about were:
the provision for sewage and the lack of capacity in Cranleigh’s sewerage infrastructure.
the fact that zero one bedroom market homes were being proposed and the one bedroom affordable housing numbers had been reduced
a lack of public open space
the drainage system being adequate on the site and the risk that this could exacerbate the flood risk for adjoining properties.
about the ownership of the existing drainage ditch, which residents claim they own half of, if proved to be correct this will mean that the drainage system proposed for the site could be invalid.
ongoing management and maintenance of the drainage system by a private management company.
clustering of affordable housing, rather than including with other market housing (pepper-potting).
Roof heights and further expansion of homes into roof space.
Visual impact on existing residents who currently look over an open green field.
some of the properties were smaller than national standards, particularly the 1 bed ground floor apartments.
Until a decision has been made you can continue to submit your comments against this application WA/2016/0417
We have been advised that the Full Planning Application (Detailed Planning Permission) by Crest Nicholson for 149 dwellings off Horsham Road will be heard by Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee on 24 August 2016 at the Council Offices in Godalming.
We will add more details when the time and the agenda are published on Waverley’s website.